WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism warned on Monday that the world was witnessing a “tsunami” of anti-Semitism linked to the global spread of the coronavirus.
In a briefing with reporters, Elan Carr expressed “deep concern” over what he described as a “wave” of online anti-Semitic content that blames the spread of the global pandemic on Jews.
“This is really nothing more than the recycled blood libel of the Middle Ages. Jews were blamed for spreading the Bubonic Plague and the Black Plague in the Middle Ages. And so this is really a hallmark of anti-Semitism that it morphs to adopt whatever current events has and focuses its venom using the vehicle of the day,” Carr said.
He did not refer to any specific incident, but said that his office was closely monitoring online expressions of anti-Semitism around the world and was clearly seeing an uptick caused amid the global coronavirus crisis. “We’re taking this very, very seriously and we’re determined to fight it,” Carr stated.
Carr was asked about anti-Semitic slogans and symbols used by far-right protesters in the United States while demonstrating against lockdown measures in states led by Democratic governors, and why the Trump administration did not denounce those demonstrations. He replied that “there has been very clear condemnation of this kind of anti-Semitism from the administration. But that’s step one. I mean, that doesn’t end the process of addressing it.”
President Donald Trump has been criticized for expressing support for the anti-lockdown protests. The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the president's response to the demonstrations is similar to his reaction to the 2017 deadly clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, claiming that there "were very fine people on both sides."
Carr said in the briefing that “we have been dealing, literally in the last three weeks specifically, with internet hate speech.
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"We’ve actually brought together various authorities that work in this area, in governments, ours and others, and in the private sector or for-profit, but also NGOs that specifically address internet hate speech. And we’re bringing together these authorities specifically for the purpose of producing a framework to address this.”
He added that “the answer there isn’t censorship, but the answer to protected hate speech is strong, unequivocal condemnation. And to have strong, unequivocal condemnation, there has to be coordination.
"It can’t be piecemeal. And so a lot of our efforts are to focus on how we can coordinate condemnation so that people espousing despicable, vile, hateful speech that is protected face the kind of wave of condemnation that they deserve to face."